Mastering Folder Organization in Google Drive



Need to organize Google Drive? Here are three simple tips that explain how to create nested folders, color code them, and use descriptive file names. (If you’d like more ideas about using Google, check out our other posts.)


To create a new folder in Drive, click the red NEW button on the left. In the menu that appears, select “folder.”

Create folders and subfolders to organize individual files.  Nest folders within other folders to create subsets of each category. As shown in the example below, within each subfolder it can be helpful to create folders dated by week to keep track of when each document is created.

Create an “uncategorized” folder to store documents that don’t fit into your other folders. Scan through the “uncategorized” folder regularly to sort its contents into the appropriate labeled folders, whenever possible.



Color coding folders that fall in similar categories makes it easy to find them. To add a color to or change the color of a folder, click once on the folder name in the file list to highlight. Click the arrow to the right of the folder name on the bar (or ribbon) above, and then select the change color option.

Assign a color to each top-level folder and give a different shade of the same color to each of its subfolders. In the example below, red is assigned to a top-level folder called “Bills.” The subfolders within–“Cars,” “Mortgages,” and so on–are assigned a lighter shade of red. All the subfolders nested within “Cars” are assigned the same shade of red as “Cars” and named according to the date they were created. This way, if you’re looking at a light red folder titled “April 6-12,” you know it’s a folder nested under “Cars.” In other words, the hue and file naming convention allow you to instantly recognize whether you’re looking at a  top-level folder or a subfolder.



A quick way to find your file in Google Drive is to use the application’s search bar. Leverage search function’s power by using descriptive file names. Here’s some common information you might consider including:

  • Type of document – e.g., presentation, lesson plan, contract, pitch, outline, invoice
  • Date – e.g, date created, date modified
  • Name of people or group involved – e.g., student’s name or initials, client name, company name, office branch location
  • Department – e.g., class subject, department name
  • Project or topic
  • FIle version number
  • Status of file – e.g., filed, for review, approved, saved, archived
  • Security level – e.g., confidential, for general use

This way, if you know some aspect of the file name, such as  the date, topic, department, or content type, you can search and easily find it in Drive.

Best practices for naming files:

  • When using dates in the name, include the year (such as a format of YYYY-MM-DD or MM-DD-YYYY).
  • Separate the date from the rest of the file name with an underscore or with brackets. For example: Tech Survey_07-11-2016 or [07.11.2016] Tech Survey.
  • Abbreviate where it makes sense, making information easier and faster to understand.
  • When abbreviating, use caps. For example, accounting becomes ACCT; management becomes MGMT.
  • If you’re creating different versions of a file, use “v” (for version) to denote it. For example: Employee Review_v2.
  • If an item is confidential or high-security, note that at the beginning of the file. For example: Confidential_Breach Incident Report_06-18-2016.

Be consistent. If you’re adding dates in your files, try to stick to one format. Files will quickly become disorganized and messy if you use different types of formats.

Finally, make sure everyone’s on the same page. Send out a quick memo to your team so that everybody understands why naming conventions are important and the rules of the naming conventions, including consistency. This helps everyone find files faster, saves time, and improves organization.

The information in this article was sourced from 4 Things You Can Do Right Now to Create a Perfectly Organized Google Drive. BetterCloud Monitor, 2016.


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